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The Humber LEP has urged the Government to consider the benefits to our region as it examines whether to introduce E10 petrol on UK forecourts.

The Government announced in March that the Department for Transport was to open a consultation into the future use of the bioethanol fuels commercially in the UK as part of its drive to reach net zero by 2050.

The Humber LEP has now responded formally to this consultation, advising the Department for Transport that the increased use of bioethanol in the UK could not only have a positive environmental impact, but could also help the Humber economy to grow.

Previously, Hull-based Vivergo Fuels, which was the UK’s largest bioethanol plant, employed over 150 people and supported thousands of farms in the region – however the plant was mothballed in late 2018, due in part to delays in decision making on E10.

Locally, bioethanol is made mostly from low-grade wheat which wouldn’t be suitable for human consumption. A by-product is animal feed which also supports the local economy and reduces imports. As a low-carbon renewable fuel it can be blended with petrol to reduce emissions.

The Humber LEP’s energy strategy, released in February, identifies supporting biofuels and decarbonising transport as key projects. Decarbonising transport in the Humber has several challenges, as so far the region has had a low take-up of electric vehicles, a lack of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and a reliance on private vehicles, especially in rural areas. Lower income households may also find it difficult to change their existing vehicles to electric ones.

E10 would mean up to 10% of the petrol at UK fuel stations would be bioethanol, pre-blended to displace the fossil fuel. Many countries in Europe, North and South America already have E10 or above, whereas UK only has E5, leaving us with higher transport emissions than elsewhere. Change would cut emissions equivalent to taking 700k cars off the road.

The Humber LEP has called for a decision to be made by the Department for Transport as soon as possible for the most positive impact for the Humber region.

Richard Royal, Humber LEP’s Energy Programme Manager, said:

“The Humber LEP is fully supportive of the call for E10, which offers a quick and easy option to lower vehicle emissions whilst also supporting our local industry and agriculture.

“The Humber has higher than average transport emissions but many families are not in a position to buy electric vehicles and as such our region’s EV ownership rate is around half the national average. Even with Government plans to end the sale of fossil fuelled vehicles, we will still have them on the road into the 2050s and need a way to lower their emissions in this interim period. The use of low carbon renewable fuels such as bioethanol is ideal for this and requires no behavioural change from motorists – just pick up the pump and fill your car as normal, but the fuel is greener.

“The mothballing of Vivergo was also a blow to the local economy and had a knock-on impact for jobs and skills, farming supply chains and UK self-sufficiency. If the introduction of E10 can also be a step towards potentially getting the plant back up-and-running, we are keen to support this.”